AORN Blog - The Periop Life

The OR of the Future: 3 Things to Know

A Conversation with John Filer, RN


The OR of the Future: 3 Things to Know

February 3, 2019   

Imagine a single OR in your hospital being able to accommodate a total hip replacement one day and an emergency cardiac case the next. This is the vision for 16 universal ORs we are building.

A universal OR suite provides the space and flexibility to support a dynamic range of surgical specialties and allows for future accommodation of emerging technologies.

A big part of my role in making this vision a reality is to field questions from my team members, find answers, and facilitate a final decision.

A nursing perspective is critically important in this process, because we consider all the consequences, not just the technological or surgical, but the functional. What are the implications for patient safety, work flow and infection control?

Building Your OR of the Future

Staying open-minded and informed is the key for perioperative nurses participating in the exciting work of shaping and improving the OR of the future. Imagine what would be best for you and your patient, then go out and find it.

Here are a few ideas to consider for a universal OR suite in your own practice setting.

1. Look at the OR Space from the Outside-In

A Universal OR requires creative solutions for space allocation, especially when it comes to lighting. Too often, lights are mounted in the center line of the OR, giving them limited mobility.

To solve this, we moved the mounting points outside of the laminar flow area. This provides more options for light positioning and also allows room for new equipment, such as a built-in patient lift system.

2. Size it Appropriately

Choosing the ideal size for a universal OR suite can be complicated by procedural planning, space allocation, and budget. Bigger isn’t always better, but is always more expensive.

We ran mock operations that showed 650 square feet allows for equipment use and movement to accommodate our full range of surgical specialties, including interventional cases, should our hybrid rooms be unavailable.

3. Consider Co-Locating Phases of Care

Our new OR will have co-located preoperative and postoperative care areas. We explored the work of others who’d created a blended space, offering preoperative care in the morning and postoperative care in the afternoon to support patients, nurses, and anesthesiologists.

Gain more insights from Filer and colleague Shelley Fleck, MBA, on shaping a universal OR suite of the future April 10 at the Global Surgical Conference and Expo in Nashville.

Interested in Touring an OR of the Future?

AORN, with corporate support from Getinge, will be presenting a full-sized OR of the Future for hands-on experience with several new technologies at the upcoming Expo. See how more efficient use of space, interoperability, and equipment accessibility are impacting clinical practice, workflows, and OR design. The OR of the Future will be open April 7-9. Register now for the Global Surgical Conference & Expo.

John Filer, RN, is Clinical Project Manager of the OR Renewal Project at Vancouver Coastal Health in British Columbia.